Friday 14 December 2018

Go with the glow

When it comes to wedding prep, begin by nourishing your skin with recipes from Kate O'Brien

Avocado on toast three ways. Photo: Rob Kerkvliet
Avocado on toast three ways. Photo: Rob Kerkvliet
GLOW, Your Complete Four-Week Guide to Healthy, Radiant Skin by Kate O'Brien, with photographs by Rob Kerkvliet, published by Gill Books
GLOW banana bread. Photo: Rob Kerkvliet
Quick miso broth with edamame
Blackberry rose. Photo: Rob Kerkvliet

'Skin is an outward expression of what is happening inside," states Irish beauty writer Kate O'Brien - and that's never more true than in the often stressful run-up to a wedding. In her new book, Glow, Kate sets out a four-week, four-step plan, supported by 60 nourishing recipes, that aims to give every woman - from bridesmaids and MOBs to the woman of the moment - her "best skin" and that all-important glow.


The following are simple techniques that have been proven to help manage our stress levels, even during challenging times:

● LOOK FOR THE WARNING SIGNS: Keep a diary to help you look out for signs of stress in your life - irritability, poor concentration, insomnia, mood swings and so on - as acting on these from the outset can prevent stress levels from getting dangerously high.

● NOURISH YOUR BODY: It is now widely accepted that alcohol and stimulants such as sugar and caffeine can heighten anxiety levels in the body. All of the Glow foods outlined in my book - without exception - are designed to keep skin nourished, while also helping to reduce the impact of stress on skin and throughout the body.

● SKIN TREATMENTS: Topical products can help relieve outward signs of stress on the skin (eczema, acne, dry skin and so on) when used in conjunction with relaxation techniques and targeted skin treatments delivered by a trusted expert.

● MAKE TIME TO PRACTISE MEDITATION/MINDFULNESS: Science has shown that the more we practise mindfulness and meditation techniques, the more in tune we become with our bodies and our lives. And as our brain adapts, so too does our ability to remain relatively calm in difficult situations. A UK study of people with psoriasis found that eight weeks of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy resulted in patients reporting reduced flare-ups and improved quality of life.

● SELF-CARE: Neuroscience is showing that by simply making the choice to be kind to ourselves we can alter our brain and body chemistry, with huge implications for our mental and physical wellbeing.

● EXERCISE: Regular moderate exercise floods the body with endorphins that help keep us healthier, stronger and more in control of our lives. This said, studies have shown that prolonged endurance sports can exacerbate stress, so work with your body and know your limits. If you're new to exercise, invest in sessions with a trusted personal trainer.

● YOGA: There's something hugely powerful and grounding about a steady yoga practice that is not evident in many other forms of exercise. Find a qualified and experienced teacher and the benefits will be endless.

● SLEEP: Sleeping soundly can add years to your life - and your face.

● SMILE AND DO MORE OF WHAT YOU ENJOY: Sounds obvious, but it's surprising how rarely we take the time to really enjoy our lives and smile - both of which release endorphins and make us feel (and look) brighter and better.

Avocado on toast Three ways

Packed with healthy fats, omega 3 and an antioxidant armoury, avocados sing to your skin. Only buy the best and look for soft, ripe and healthy-looking fruits. They are a great lunch option too, especially when time is tight.

When it comes to bread, sourdough wins every time. Do ensure you are buying genuine sourdough and not some fake alternative. Better still, bake your own. Yes, it takes time and practice (and maybe a few failures!), but it will be worth it all when you eventually get it right. Sourdough is delicious and great for the gut too, and this means only good things for our skin.

Serves 1


Mash an avocado with a dash of lime juice and black pepper, then pile onto a thick slice of toasted sourdough.

Enjoy on its own or top with any of the three

following tasty combinations:

1. Crumbled feta and chopped basil leaves or a dash of basil oil.

2. A poached egg and a generous pinch of smoked paprika.

3. A handful of defrosted, shelled edamame beans - either mashed into the avocado or served alongside it.


Quick Miso Broth with Edamame

Quick miso broth with edamame

Miso is a Japanese seasoning paste produced by fermenting soya beans. It is at the core of traditional Japanese cuisine and is a wonderfully nourishing addition to soups and stews, adding that wonderful umami taste. The benefits of seaweed speak for themselves but many people struggle with how best to use it in food. Now is the perfect time to experiment! Wakame is ideal for this broth, but use whatever variety you can get. Most need to be soaked prior to use so always check cooking instructions.

Serves 4


2 tbsp olive oil

1 small leek, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2cm fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped

5 strips dried wakame, or about 1 small cup (110g) dried nori, thinly sliced, or 5 strands dried sea spaghetti

140g edamame beans, defrosted and shelled

80g shitake mushrooms, sliced

1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

1l homemade or low-salt vegetable stock

Large handful fresh coriander, chopped

2 tbsp miso paste (superior quality, organic)

2 spring onions, finely chopped, to garnish


1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the leek, garlic and ginger. Allow to sweat for about 5 minutes. Add the seaweed, edamame, mushrooms, tamari and stock and ¬ of the coriander. Simmer for about 15 minutes.

2. Transfer about 300ml of broth from the saucepan into a bowl. Allow to cool a little before stirring in the miso (if the broth is too hot it could kill the active enzymes in the miso). Pour back into the saucepan and mix. Serve in bowls topped with remaining coriander and spring onion.


GLOW Banana Bread

GLOW banana bread. Photo: Rob Kerkvliet

Glow banana bread is full of skin-loving essential fats, vitamins and more. Most importantly, it tastes divine! It is also the perfect snack, giving a boost of goodness when needed.

Makes 1 loaf


160g walnuts

200g oats

30g ground almonds

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

4 ripe bananas

60g coconut oil, melted

180g maple syrup

100ml almond milk (or milk of choice)

50g dark chocolate, cut into small pieces (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a rectangular loaf tin with baking paper.

2. Blitz the walnuts and oats in a blender or food processor until they're a floury texture.

3. Add to a bowl with the ground almonds, baking powder and cinnamon. Combine the rest of the ingredients (apart from the chocolate) in a blender. Fold into the dry ingredients and then mix in the dark chocolate (if using).

4. Pour into the tin and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from oven and leave to cool.


Blackberry Rose

Blackberry rose. Photo: Rob Kerkvliet

Serves 2


100g blackberries

1 tsp dried rose petals, plus extra for serving

400-450ml kombucha

Ice cubes, to serve


Put the berries and dried rose petals into a blender. Add enough kombucha to blend. Pour the mixture through a sieve. Split between 2 glasses with a couple of ice cubes in each. Top with the kombucha and scatter a couple of rose petals over each. Raspberries can be used instead of blackberries.

Irish Independent

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